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Gov. Sanford sues S.C. General Assembly

Gov. Mark Sanford is taking the General Assembly to court after lawmakers required him to accept $350 million in disputed federal money by overriding his budget vetoes.

Sanford quickly announced the federal suit after the Senate voted 34-11 on a state budget that forces him to accept the money.

"We know a suit will be filed against us on this issue, and as such we've filed a suit tonight in response," Sanford said in a prepared statement. "We believe the Legislature's end-around move won't pass constitutional muster."

Sanford will release details of the suit today.

Lawmakers said Wednesday there was little room to negotiate with the governor, and they would welcome a lawsuit if the governor chose to ignore the new state law. State courts should decide the issue, they said.

"This is the law of the state," Senate Finance Committee chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, said. "He took an oath of office to uphold the laws of the state."

Leatherman predicted law-makers would win any state legal battle. The S.C. Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit earlier this year because there was still time for lawmakers and Sanford to work out a compromise. The Chapin High School student who filed the original suit has said she wanted to file another once the budget was approved.

Sanford and lawmakers have battled for months over whether to include about $350 million in federal money over the next two budget years, the first beginning July 1. Sanford has said he will not accept the money unless the state pays off an equivalent amount of debt.

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